Padres News: Joaquin Benoit Option Picked Up by Padres


In a somewhat surprising move the Padres have exercised the option on relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit for 2016, now owing the hard throwing right hander $7.5MM with a $1MM buyout according to Corey Brock of and other reports. In moves that are not suprising, they have declined the options on SS Clint Barmes and pitcher Cory Luebke. Many see the Benoit move as a signal that the team is actively pursuing trade options with current closer Craig Kimbrel or perhaps even Benoit himself.

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The Padres like to keep their options open, but for a team whose bullpen struggled mightily last season it appears that before anything else Benoit at least wants to make sure he won’t be left with a bare cupboard in a worst case scenario. That said with his contract commitment and others already on board their 2016 payroll is already projected higher than Opening Day 2015 payroll.

Benoit is 38 years old but has had two very solid seasons with the Padres largely holding down the 8th inning set-up role for the team and also closing the last month or so of 2014 after previous closer Huston Street was traded to the Angels.

Last season Benoit had an ERA of 2.34 in just over 65 innings. Though far from bad, it was a rise from his 2014 ERA mark of 1.49 and 2013 ERA of 2.01 when he was with Detroit. His velocity dipped a little bit and overall his strikeout rate lowered while his walk rate rose – but he still was a big part of the bullpen that did function. Added on top of that were the struggles of previous bullpen staples like Dale Thayer and Nick Vincent and injury issues of Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer. Kelley is a current free agent and by no means a guarantee to come back to the bullpen for the Padres.

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Barmes meanwhile was a pretty easy choice for the Padres. While he did a decent job as a backup shortstop for the club, they could easily find better options, possibly even INF Ramiro Pena who had a good year in AAA for El Paso. Also, the club is surely expected to go after a “real” starting shortstop which would push Alexi Amarista back to the backup/utility role he is more accustomed to and has succeeded in previously. If Alexi Amarista starts the 2016 season as the shortstop this off-season will be a failure for A.J. Preller. Based on his track record from last year however, I doubt this will be the case.

Cory Luebke was signed a large contract – and then had two Tommy John Surgeries. While the Padres family hopes that he does get back to the major leagues, the Padres have had enough of paying for him to do so and it is hoped he can be kept in the Padres organization but at a price that is more realistic and perhaps an incentive-laden contract as he continues his rehab back to the Major Leagues. He started 25 games for the Padres from 2010-2012 but has not pitched in the majors since then. He did make 3 starts this season with Single-A affiliate Lake Elsinore and in 3 innings of relief for AA before being shut down with pain.